Red Bull Stratos, a mission to the edge of space, will attempt to transcend human limits that have existed for 50 years. Supported by a team of experts Felix Baumgartner plans to ascend to 120,000 feet in a stratospheric balloon and make a freefall jump rushing toward earth at supersonic speeds before parachuting to the ground. His attempt to dare atmospheric limits holds the potential to provide valuable medical and scientific research data for future pioneers.

The Red Bull Stratos team brings together the world’s leading minds in aerospace medicine, engineering, pressure suit development, capsule creation and balloon fabrication. It includes retired United States Air Force Colonel Joseph Kittinger, who holds three of the records Felix will strive to break.

Joe’s record jump from 102,800 ft in 1960 was during a time when no one knew if a human could survive a jump from the edge of space. Joe was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and had already taken a balloon to 97,000 feet in Project ManHigh and survived a drogue mishap during a jump from 76,400 feet in Excelsior I. The Excelsior III mission was his 33rd parachute jump.

Although researching extremes was part of the program’s goals, setting records wasn’t the mission’s purpose. Joe ascended in helium balloon launched from the back of a truck. He wore a pressurized suit on the way up in an open, unpressurized gondola. Scientific data captured from Joe’s jump was shared with U.S. research personnel for development of the space program. Today Felix and his specialized team hope to take what was learned from Joe’s jumps more than 50 years ago and press forward to test the edge of the human envelope.

Cool, right?

In the summer of 2012, Felix Baumgartner will attempt a record-breaking freefall jump from 120,000 feet – 23 miles – above the earth as part of Red Bull Stratos: a mission to the edge of space. The attempt will take place near Roswell, NM, USA, and if successful, Felix Baumgartner could be the first person to break the speed of sound with his own body, protected only by a space suit. As no one has successfully jumped from this height before, it’s uncertain what the highest supersonic freefall in history will look or feel like. This animated video gives us a sense of what to expect when the history-making jump takes place later this summer when the weather is best for a launch. A live webcast of the Red Bull Stratos 120,000 foot freefall will air on

WIRED: Analysis of a Red Bull Stratos Practice Jump


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